New York in the early 19th century gave the picture of the future: It was not really a city but a “work in progress”. An Architecture under construction, combined with a heterogeneous population in its origin, diverse in its behavior, complex in its quests. And basically, a population that spoke many different languages. This heterogeneous crowd, however, had a common characteristic: the reason that led to the passage of the Atlantic Ocean. This reason on the substance had economic content (and only a secondary social one).
The Dutch, the Irish, the Germans and the other Europeans who crossed the vast sea in order to face the New Earth wished to gain from exploitation. Far from the binding frameworks of local mercantilist models, safe from naive and unsubstantiated economic protectionism, the European settlers have stepped on the American coast with a creative vision to accompany them. And this desire was clear. After all, only a few years after the birth of the American Nation, the whole country was in a ferocious effervescence . The trade was booming, the industry was growing, and the decadence was in the center, becoming a matter for further development. At the same time, the social conditions were exceptional in relation to Europe, where religious and nationalist passions were a constant cause of local or even wider disorder, with a permanent victim of trade and the expansion of economic activity.
Putting economic growth on the pedestal of all political and social developments has set specific standards on the methods to be followed in order to have an effect. At the top of all this reasoning, the concept of “city” was found. This technique was successfully followed in the birthday land of Europe where capitalism flourished within its walls. However, as mentioned above, this city has been strongly colored by non-economic features, with the result that it does not become fully operational.
From this point of view, from the first years after 1800, the question of the economic functionality of the vast territory around and within New York as the main trading portal to the vast American hinterland. The result of the public meditation, there was the famous Plan of Commissioners 1811. The Plan was based on the coordination of a large heterogeneous population towards achieving a common (economic) objective. And how this was accomplished: By simple logic. New York was designed topographically, with the ultimate goal of gaining the imprint of a huge urban grid, which would be composed of vertical streets and avenues, given their amplitude. Thereafter, these roads named with letters and numbers, so it is easy to n any nationality resident moved from the north to the southern tip of Manhattan, not find it difficult at all. Here is the liberal democratic basis of the design philosophy: Letters and numbers make everyone equal. The choice of this tool has greatly helped in the general cultural assimilation of people with great differences in culture, perception and generally recruiting performances. It may seem over-simplified. It is not, however.
In the coastal area, where the coastline raised problems in meeting the above specifications, it was decided that the streets would have a uniformly smaller width, in favor of the space and activities, as this was precisely the target that had been at the center of all the design : the service of trading. The ultimate implementation of the grand plan has changed the economic – and of course not only – history of the United States, but also of the rest of the world. The emblematic Eastern Commercial Gateway to a New World has now escaped being characterized as a simple big city: it was now the operational core of International Trade and the Semitic Symbol of Liberal Democratic Capitalism, which was preparing to conquer the world.
There was another result from the success of this Plan. It turned out that what could be termed ” urban footprint” is the most valid benchmark on the quality of conduct of economic functions in a given region, or more broadly in a particular society. From the acquisition and hegemony of classical Athens, what we now define as a Liberal Democracy – and to which a given economic figure is attributed – requires highly specific urban terms to develop. These terms must be clear and understandable, stable and long-lasting, functional in terms of the action they serve . It would be extremely interesting to observe that the purity and content of these specifications (related to a town planning result) could describe the conditions under which the economy and the tax authorities should help. Looking at the view from a different window, one will see that countries that have championship in corruption are not famous for the functional urban planning of their urban centers. And usually in a leading role in favor of the corruption g s, highlight the Planning and relevant (government) services. In Greece, we know this very well. In the last four years, four bills have been passed since 2009, aiming at the settlement or legalization of arbitrary buildings (Law 3775/2009 – Minister Souflias, Law 3843/2010 – Minister Birbili, Law 4014/2011 – Minister Papakonstantinou, 4178/13 – Minister Kalafatis). Clogging around a sloppy and reluctant policy, every legislative act leads to the expectation of the next one. Again, the resemblance, the frequency and the number of tax and related legislation production are typical.
The inadequacy of the town code and its persistent violation has a triple end result: first, it leads to anarchy the urban (and not) landscape, eliminating any conditions of exploitation and mortgaging assets into a permanent regime of economic depreciation. Secondly, it leads to distorted and embarrassing growth patterns, if and when they happen. This type of development is also accompanied by a vulgar form of aesthetic and social patterns. Thirdly, it creates and then sustains an endless series of micro interests, as the breeders of violations attract heterogeneous origin and their selfish purposes constantly collide. Again, comparing these consequences with those resulting from tax legislation, proves how much a distortion is feeding on the other.
The most substantial outcome that could leave the current economic conjuncture as a bequest to the social body is the understanding that the Economy is the goal and that Policy is the tool of its achievement. The Economy begins and precedes. Policy follows and follows , by appropriately modifying the surrounding area in order to fully serve the Economy. All the intermediate problems have been settled over the centuries and especially after the Great Urban Revolution and the prevalence of the Enlightenment. The Plan of Commissioners, on the basis of which all these thoughts were presented, proved that one is the way to solve the most complex and diffuse puzzle: the common common mind. In Greece today, this concept is a demand. Against the Plan of Commissioners, the sketch of the “Committees with Drawings” series is embossed.